Saturday, May 30, 2009

More Old Friends

Remembering back to our lives in West Virginia 47 years ago, I was reminded of one of Mom's college friends with whom she was reunited our second time in Elkins, WV.

We were living at 200 2nd street. My mother heard that her old college chum (the word was still in use then) Elli was living across town and her husband, Walt Lesser, was working in the same building as my father. We came to think of the Lessers as our second family. They are wonderful people and I learned a lot at their house and from them.

This photo of Walt isn't ours and I found it on the internet. Taken about 1972 or 1973, it shows Walt as I remember him, dog included. There were always setters! Great dogs, every one of them. I don't know if he is still involved with Alder Run Kennels but I wouldn't be surprised if he was.

Walt hunted his dogs. I remember that he'd drive his old Dodge "hunting car" station wagon and come home late at night with some good stories. Once they had to drive all the way home in second gear.

At that time all the dogs were kept inside. They were always around and that helped give me an appreciation for the breed even though I was too young and small to actually go hunting with them.

Walt is a game biologist and one of the first things I remember observing at his house was his project of trapping and banding Evening Grosbeaks in the back yard. I don't know if that is the reason but Grosbeaks are still one of my favorite birds. Dad liked Grosbeaks for their color and fed sunflower seed all winter in hopes they'd come to his feeders. He was always pleased when they did.

I was about 7 or 8 at this time and we played all over Elkins. From River Street all the way over to Boundary Avenue, through the park and on the Davis and Elkins campus.

Hunter had a crow. At least it was a crow his family took care of that followed Hunter around town. We ran up and down the hills and through the graveyard with Hunter's crow doing aerial recon for us. Unfortunately, I also learned that air support could be used by the enemy to pinpoint your position. The "enemy" managed to flank us and drive us back to Hunter's house. A lot of fun at the time.

I remember fox hunting behind their house on Chenowith Creek Road. I can't quite remember when they moved but it was in the late '60s early '70s. I was invited to sit with them while they used a state of the art electronic caller (it was a battery operated phonograph!) to call fox. And it worked! I was surprised, so surprised that when I saw the fox I didn't shoot. He saw us too and took off. I think Walt was preturbed but aside from a mild rebuke and some remorse on my part it was a good time.

Hunter is now an archaeologist and published author. He's written three books, two of which have been published. They are "Battle at Corricks Ford" and "Rebels at the Gate". Both are excellent. I understand that the third book is at the publisher but beyond that I can only wait for its release.

Hunter was always interested in this sort of stuff. I remember that he had some health issues as a kid, maybe it was just the normal stuff, but he'd be flat on his back and if you asked him how he was he'd say, "I'm fine." Everything was good with him. He's really been blessed to have a dad that loves fly fishing and hunting and took him with him all the time.

The worst thing is that I haven't seen him since I was 17 or so. We just went in separate directions. Having lived 3 hours apart for several years probably contributed to that.

When we left Elkins the second time, 1963, we moved to the Daniel Boone National Forest in Kentucky. Living first in Winchester and then outside of Frenchburg at the Job Corps camp where Dad worked, we had a pretty good time while there. The photo is of the big slope from the staff housing area down to the main entry road into the camp. The February (I think) of 1964 there was a huge snowfall that closed the schools for two weeks. We were on that slope most of every day for those two weeks. It is a long, long slope and you could get up some real speed. A couple of us went over the road and down the slope below that into the trees. It is a wonder nobody was seriously hurt. Great fun. I think that's my sister coming down the slope in center frame.

Dad was one of the first administrators at this camp. A lot of things were new when we moved in. They were still doing the hyrdostatic seeding of the yards. That was neat! Ok, so we were easily entertained. They also paved the roads while we were there. I was one of two kids my age/grade there. The other was Rayna S______. While they got there the same time we did they moved out earlier, about 6-9 months before we left in December 1964. I did a lot of wandering around the woods on my own. Never told my folks where I'd been. However, I had my bow, a all-fiberglass Bear 25lb recurve. I carried it all over and did a lot of stump shooting. THAT was great fun and a wonderful opportunity.

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